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Michael Gaismair’s Territorial Constitution for Tyrol (1526)

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11. A government shall be established in the territory. Brixen [Bressanone] is the best situated place for it: there are many clerics’ houses there and other lodgings and it is geographically central. The rulers should be elected from all quarters of the territory, also some from the mines.

12. From now on all appeals should be made to this government and never more to Merano, for it is too costly and of no use. And they should be dealt with immediately and result in fair rectification.

13. A school of higher learning shall be erected, at which one should only learn the Word of God. And three scholarly men from this school, who are versed in the Word of God and Holy Scripture (which is the only basis from which God’s justice can be explained), shall be members of the government and direct and judge all matters according to God’s commands, as befits a Christian people.

[14] Concerning interest, the entire territorial assembly [Landschaft] should decide whether to abolish it immediately or to declare a free year according to divine law [Leviticus 25: 4-8] and in the other years to collect interest for the common use of the territory. For it must be considered that the common territory will have war expenditures for some time.

[15] Concerning customs [duties], it seems to me to be good for the sake of the common man that they be abolished throughout the territory. However, they should be established at the borders and administered thus: that which enters the territory [i.e. imports] shall not incur duties, but that which leaves the territory [i.e. exports] shall.

[16] Concerning tithes, everyone shall give them according to God’s commandment and they should be collected as follows: there should be a priest in each parish as taught by [St.] Paul. He should proclaim the Word of God and receive honorable accommodations from the tithes. The excess collected should be given to the poor. However, there should be an ordinance concerning the poor that prohibits begging from house to house, to keep vagrants and useless people capable of working at bay.

[17] The monasteries and German Houses [i.e. houses of the Teutonic Order of Knights] should be converted into homes [literally, “hospitals”]. In some of these, the sick shall be housed together and should be provided care and medicine. In others, the elderly who are unable to work on account of their age [shall be housed]. And the poor orphan children [shall also be housed there] and shall receive instruction and an honorable upbringing. And where there are residential poor, they should be assisted according to their needs from the tithes or alms as deemed necessary by each judge in his own district, which they know better than anyone. In cases where the tithe is insufficient to provide for the pastor and the poor, everyone should faithfully give alms respective to their wealth. And if there is still a deficit, then the full amount must be given from their incomes. In every hospital there should be a superintendent and also a chief bailiff or official in charge of all the homes and the poor; he shall have no duties other than to be ready to serve all homes and to care and provide for the poor. In addition, all the judges, each in his own district, should help by [distributing] the tithes and alms to the homeless poor in addition to identifying and reporting them. The poor shall be afforded not only food and drink but also provided with clothing and other necessities.

Further, so that order may be maintained throughout the territory in all matters, four captains and in addition a chief captain shall be appointed for the entire territory. In case of war and other emergencies, they shall be responsible for preparing the territory, [including] its mines, [mountain] passes, paths, bridges, dams, and roads, and doing everything necessary for the territory, and serving the territory faithfully as the situation demands. However, after they have conducted inspections and informed themselves, they should inform the government about any deficiencies and then act according to the governors’ counsel in all cases.

Marshes and wetlands and other infertile places in the territory should be made fertile and not left barren at the expense of the common good for the benefit of a few selfish people. The marshes from Merano down to Trent should all be drained and used for pasturing cattle and sheep, and more grain should be grown in many places, so that the territory will be provided with meat. One should also plant oil [i.e. olive] trees in many places, and also saffron. And the vineyards in the valleys should be trellised, and in them red Lagrein grapes should be planted and fermented, wine made as in Italy, and in between [the vines] grain should be grown, for there is a shortage of grain in the territory. This would result in the stench of the wetlands being reduced and improve the quality of the land. Many sicknesses that result from the wine produced in the valleys would be alleviated, wine and grain will be affordable and the production costs kept low. But the hillside vineyards which are not suitable for the production of grain should remain as they are.

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